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EU Court Upholds Spirit of Net Neutrality

Ardjuna Seghers by

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Recently it seemed that ISPs were being forced to limit users’ freedoms more and more, with BT’s court-enforced blocking of Newzbin being but one example. While content theft and piracy are genuine concerns, this kind of policing is a slippery slope - especially when many sites tread a grey line.

Now, however, those who were worried by this trend can breathe just a little easier, as the European Court of Justice yesterday ruled that “EU law precludes the imposition of an injunction by a national court which requires an internet service provider to install a filtering system with a view to preventing the illegal downloading of files”.

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In other words, the UK’s High Court ruling forcing BT to block access to certain websites (including Newzbin) is essentially unlawful, as national law must operate within the confines of EU directives. Whether ISPs can still implement such measures on their own initiative is another question.

With the Internet being the primary source of information, social exchange and data consumption for so many, it’s an invaluable resource that needs to be protected from exploitation. And while this works both ways, ultimately it’s the freedom of its users that should – and indeed must – take priority.

So are you happy with this development or were you cheering the BT precedent? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Source: Cnet

Go to comments

falcomomo

November 26, 2011, 2:45 pm

Again, another apolitical law from the EU. I like how they aren't influenced by powerful lobby groups. GO EU!

Lantic

November 27, 2011, 6:46 pm

Well done EU! The whole idea of blocking Torrents isn't workable - block one site, and another appears in its place. Until the various record/film companies work out a way of delivering media at reasonable cost and without regional limitations, only then will piracy begin to diminish.

simon jackson

November 28, 2011, 8:43 pm

I agree with the other comments - the law should be enforced by prosecuting those who infringe it, not by censoring the internet. The real problem here is that many content providers - game developers and movie studios specifically - still aren't prepared to charge a reasonable price for digital content. Why should i pay the same price for a digital copy of a game or movie, as for the boxed version? Indeed, the digital version is often more expensive. This is profiteering, on the basis that the digital edition is more convenient for consumers and therefore we will pay a premium for it.

I'm not condoning content theft, but rather just trying to be pragmatic about it. The truth is, some people will always break the law. In some cases it will be a matter of economics, in others ideology. However, i believe that if content is available easily and at a fair price, the vast majority of people will be prepared to pay for it. Privacy invading DRM is a good example of why it isn't, at present, easy enough.

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